Digital Marketing

Paid media: Definition, strategies and trends

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Sometimes, you have to spend money to make money. Paid media can increase your brand’s reach, spread awareness and help you capture new leads. Combined with a strong inbound strategy, paid media can be one of your most powerful marketing tools.

What is paid media?

As the name implies, paid media is media you pay for. In the digital marketing space, examples of paid media include pay-per-click (PPC) ads, social media ads, sponsored content and paid search listings.

You might see this term used within the context of other types of media:

  • Owned media refers to content you publish in a channel that you control. This includes assets like blogs published on your website and videos published on your YouTube channel.
  • Earned media is when someone other than your brand representatives share your content. For example, a third party writing about your recent product launch is ‘earned’ if you didn’t pay them to mention your brand.
  • Shared media is any content about your brand that you or your customers post to a social media channel.

Compared with these other categories, paid media is usually easier to control and scale. You can pay more to increase your coverage. However, paid media isn’t as credible as earned media because viewers immediately see it as an advertisement.

What does paid media look like on social platforms?

B2C and B2B marketers can benefit from paid social media. As part of an inbound marketing strategy, paid advertising can serve as an entry point leading customers to your website. In many cases, paid social ads can direct readers to landing pages and other high value content such as blogs, eBooks and white papers.

Paid media on Facebook

On Facebook, paid media ads can look like typical posts, but they can appear in the feeds of people who don’t yet follow your page. Facebook ads can be images, gifs, videos or collections of media. They can link to your brand’s Facebook page or to your website.

Facebook’s targeting solution helps your ads to reach lookalike audiences. A lookalike audience is made up of people who exhibit behaviors on the platform similar to the people who already follow your brand. This helps to increase the likelihood that ad viewers will be interested in your message.

Paid media on Twitter

Sponsored tweets can appear in users’ feeds just like tweets from followed accounts. In addition, brands can sponsor entire hashtags, which appear on the sidebar of the desktop site, or in the search tab of the app. Sponsored hashtags appear near organically trending stories.

Paid media on Instagram

On Instagram, paid media can look like a normal post or Instagram Story. Brands may also partner with influencers to sponsor posts on other accounts. As with Facebook, you can customize your intended audience based on location, demographics, interests and behaviors.

Paid media on YouTube

Advertisements can appear before monetized videos on YouTube. Depending on the user, these ads may be skippable or unskippable. According to YouTube, advertisers only pay for ads when someone watches at least 30 seconds or clicks on the ad. Within the YouTube app, ads may appear under the video player.

Why is paid media important to a marketing strategy?

In the context of content marketing, there are essentially two types of web traffic: paid and organic. Both are important sources of new leads and customers. Organic traffic is earned by ranking highly on search engines or appealing to a large audience on social media. Paid traffic comes from advertising.

Companies at every stage of growth can benefit from using paid media. Small businesses often invest in locally targeted ads and sponsored content to appeal to new customers that are not yet aware of the brand. Large companies invest in paid ads to grow their reach and maintain their market position.

At the end of the day, your website is one of the most important marketing assets you own. Paid media is a highly effective way to drive traffic to your site where your high value content can move readers further down the sales funnel.

How do you set up a paid media campaign?

Creating an ad is just one piece of a paid media campaign. To make sure your ads reach the right audience and have the desired effect, you’ll need to do some research first. As with other types of campaigns, you’ll likely start with buyer personas. This should tell you:

  • What type of content your audience prefers.
  • What channels your audience uses to find content.
  • What type of appeals are most likely to pique your readers’ interest.
  • What visual styles your audience will find more appealing.

There will likely be a keyword component to your strategy. For example, if you’re running a paid search campaign, you’ll need to identify keywords and phrases that your audience is likely to look for online. From there, you’ll need to write and test ad copy and create any visual elements. You’ll also need to ensure that your paid media aligns with the rest of your marketing strategy.

Check out our comprehensive paid search guide to see all of the elements that go into a successful campaign.

What are the top paid media trends in 2020?

According to cloud computing company Domo, humans create over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. Paid media only makes up a sliver of that enormous amount, but it is designed to cut through the noise and reach consumers in a heavily saturated environment. Here are a few trends that are shaping the way marketers use paid media to reach their goals:

  • Digital media spend is on the rise. According to the latest data from IAB, digital ad spend is expected to increase 6% from 2019 to 2020. Traditional media, however, is expected to decrease by 8%.
  • Video is becoming more popular. Smart Insights reports that 92% of marketers say video is important to their marketing strategy in 2020.
  • More marketers are using automation. Grand View Research predicts that the marketing automation market will grow to $8.42 billion by 2027, increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.8%.

As more aspects of daily life move online, there will be more opportunities for marketers to appeal to customers via digital channels. Paid media will play an important role in capturing the attention of new customers and increasing the throughput of sales funnels.

Expand your audience with a strong paid marketing strategy

Now that you understand more about how to leverage paid media to bring more customers to your brand, it’s time to take things to the next level. Check out our in-depth guide to setting up a paid marketing strategy to get started.